The Unlock! Escape Adventures game series is essentially an escape room in a box. Now I’ve never been to a real escape room, but I think it has to be very similar to what I experienced playing these games, except in a box. Well, I wasn’t actually inside of a box. It would have been much more difficult if I had been inside of a box. The game utilizes cards to provide players with visual puzzles that when solved will lead to additional cards and eventually an exit.
Players must work together to find and solve clues and escape the game before the time runs out and the game bursts into flame. That last part isn’t true. Produced by Asmodee North America, the games retail for about $15 each and were designed by French designer, Cyril Demaegd. Now I was pretty sure that wasn’t a real person because I thought you could rearrange the letters of that name and get Lyric Damaged, but then I realized that there are two a’s and not two e’s in damaged. I also checked online. Seriously, I am the worst blogger ever.
Squeek and Sausage
The first Unlock! Escape Adventures game I played was Squeek and Sausage where you must infiltrate the hideout of the evil and crazy clown mastermind, Noside. This game includes a smaller set of cards that act as a demo on how to play to larger game. I thought this was really useful, because there are some aspects of game play that are not necessarily intuitive.
For example, there are clues that are hidden in the pictures. These aren’t things that you could just figure out. You have to notice them in the images. Also, the game utilizes an application that you download. This app acts as your timer, and it also provides clues during the game if you can enter the correct four digit codes. This kind of augmented reality really bumps up the gaming experience, and I think that this physical plus digital input is really one of the things I enjoyed the most about the series.
The other game in the series was Unlock! The Formula, which sends you deep into a hidden underground lab in search of a powerful truth serum. I really wanted to write truth syrup instead of truth serum. How scary would it be to have truth syrup? How could you ever lie about the quality of your waffles?
The Formula features card illustrations that are more realistic and less cartoony than Squeek and Sausage, but I think they were equally challenging. I think that The Formula takes better advantage of the media integration capabilities of the digital app than S&S, but they were both enjoyable, and well worth their purchase price. Speaking of which, some readers may balk at the $15 price tag for a game with no replay-ability, but remember that these games are probably best with three to five players. $15 is cheap for an hour of entertainment for four people. Luckily, I didn’t have to purchase it because my buddy Joe buys everything and I just play his stuff. Frugality award achievement unlocked!
Here’s what I think
I think the thing that I like the most about these games is that when you bring a team of people together to tackle a task like this you start to notice that some people are better at certain things than others. For example, my friend John was able to find a lot of clues because he was really good at seeing the tiny clues in the cards. Others were betters at spatial puzzles and some were better with riddles. I am a big fan of cooperative games, but I think this goes beyond cooperation and inspires focus and collaboration. I would love to do something like this with people at work. Maybe it would help people work together and communicate better. It certainly inspires thinking outside of the box. See how I brought the whole box thing back into the discussion?
Is it a game or is it just an activity? Maybe it’s just plain fun. However you look at it, I’m happy to recommend the Unlock! Escape Adventures as being worth your gaming time and money. If you’ve played these games or have ever escaped from a room or a box, please share your experience below in the comments.